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High-level ILO Conference opens on jobs, growth and social progress

Jun 18, 2013, 11:27 AM

Geneva, 17 June, 2013 (ECA) - The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa has said that Africa’s population is estimated to double in the next 50 years and, as such, there is a need to plan for the jobs that these young Africans will need.

Carlos Lopes was speaking at the opening of the 102nd Session of the International Labour Organization (ILO) during a high-level World of Works Panel Event on the theme: Restoring Confidence: Jobs, Growth and Social Progress.

Referencing Justin Lin, former Chinese Chief Economist of the World Bank who has argued that Africa is poised to create up to 80 million jobs from the movement of sunset industries in China to the continent, Lopes argued that the need to plan for jobs is “not just about social inclusion and equity to prevent restlessness or revolution; It is about ensuring that when it is called upon to become the factory of the world, Africa would be able to play this role.”

He also underscored that Africa’s population is getting more youthful, as the rest of the world is ageing and the continent’s growing youth population will have the largest labour force in the world by 2040.

Thus, according to Lopes, an intergenerational social contract between Africa and other regions is required, “because its youth will be needed to sustain a global economy in which the rest of the population is ageing and cannot do certain types of work.”

He stressed that the changing demographic landscape requires structural transformation of African economies “to ensure that jobs, growth and social progress advance together in tandem.”

Furthermore, to successfully create the conditions for jobs, growth and social progress, the continent like other regions must have control of its own vision and narrative. It must also address the challenge of inequality in the process of structural transformation.  

The Executive Secretary informed the meeting about Africa Vision 2063, which is being developed by the African Union, with the Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, and whose main objective - the structural transformation of the continent - underpin the key discussions at this year’s 102nd session.

“This requires promoting industrialization, restoring national planning systems and generating robust statistics; it also means generating decent jobs and increasing social protection,” he said.

The meeting has around 5000 delegates representing governments, employers and works from the ILO’s 185 member states. Among other issues, the 102nd session will focus on social protection in an ageing world, sustainable development and social dialogue.